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Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Day I Left Molave

It was just an ordinary day. I woke up early, prepared our breakfast. One last inspection of the things to bring and the things to leave behind. Then Gevic came; turnover of all keys and last minute instructions. When they started hauling our bags to the pickup, I talked to Sisoy, my niece Maita's husband , whom I assigned as caretaker of the dogs and the house. Daughter Geda asked me if I want to see the dogs. So I went to the backyard to bid goodbye to Tiger and Wyngard, my dogs. They have been used to my comings and goings for a few days. Anyway, the longest were 10 days for my regular checkups, and the last one was my medical exam at St, Luke Hospital, followed by the by my interview at the US embassy, from May 31 to June 10, 2015. They don't know I'll be away longer this time. Although I believe, dogs have their own intuitions, their own understanding of whats happening, due to the bulk of baggage I bring. Then I went to see Rara, our teacher in the Fenandez-Zacal Learning Center ; Gave reminders and intructions for updates on school happenings. My trip to Cebu is on July 2, 2015, but I chose to leave with Geda, who is leaving today via Pagadian. It was timely because I have a bank transaction at BDO, Pagadian tomorrow and since Goyen mentioned that it would be better if I bring a lab exam results so she can compare it with future checkups, I decided to have it at the Diagnostics in Pagadian. Perfect timing. I have a reason to leave Molave ahead of my own schedule. I would go with Geda to Pagadian. The truth is I did not want to be left alone. Lately, I had been harboring this feeling I cannot understand nor decipher. It's not excitement for my trip abroad, I've long gotten over that. I'm tired of staying alone again in trying to be . okay ,when in my heart I'm not. I want someone to think for me, to plan for me . Yes, I kept myself busy with church and senior citizens activities and I enjoyed our meetings; but when I got home, I felt so empty when there's no one to talk to, to share the days events. In my room I have a big tv, a laptop, a telephone, and cell phones to connect to my loved ones. I have books to read, things to write, which occupied my time before I sleep. I've been doing this for five years. Now I feel tired.... and lonely. I miss the voices and the noise of my family. I don't want to admit it, because a oftentimes, I advise my friends to move on. ' ``` I realize that the best place for me to stay now is to be with my family, anyone of them; then my heart can rest. ````This time, I'm scheduled to go to my daughter Goyen in New York . She is a nurse, and I'm confident she can monitor an old woman's health. When Geda came to help me pack for three days, I became alive. I cooked her favorite foods. She made final check on the things I packed, restored order to my room, and much more restored order to my mind. My grandchildren Angie and Ading came all the way from CDO to Molave; Greff and Thirdy , with Gevic and Imar, four days before to sleep with us, to send off their Lola. After supper, the boys went out to buy barbecue and coke and bonded well before sleeping. The following day, Gevic fetched them so Angie and Ading can go back to CDO for their classes, while Greff and Thirdy back to Pagadian. They did not know how much it meant to me. ```Well, everything is ready now, so , time to say, Goodbye…….

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2009

THE AFTERMATH

After all the ritual before and after the burial, I found myself suddenly free, relieved from the worries of caring for a sick partner for quite a long time. I do not have to rush home before 11; 00 am when I’m out because I gave him his meals personally. I was also freed from the headache of monitoring impertinent boy watchers.

But I’m not happy. I’ve been used to having him around that wherever I go, he’s there waiting for me, calling my name. Now that he’s gone, I feel so empty. Every little thought or event that connects to him bring tears to my eyes. I’ve lost a husband and a friend. If I had known his life was ending I could have savored all the precious time left of him with me. Why oh why, oh why….


He gave me five wonderful children, eight beloved grandchildren, and a soon to be-born great grandchild by our eldest grandson, Pepau. After my retirement from public service, we had two years of bliss before the stroke happened.

Even when he was sick, he taught me to be strong, to stand up for what I believed was right. My outlook in life was a mixture of my father’s serious principles and my husband’s practical nature. He did not leave me totally helpless. I learned to handle things through his guidance.


Still, I long for my old life with him. If only I had seriously given focus to his exercises, even if I had to pull him out of bed early. But no, what has passed is past.

Right now, I’m picking up the pieces of my life; trying to evade the dark waves of loneliness that smash against the rocks of my defenses. Until when? No one can tell.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

HIS LAST DAYS

That evening, my husband was restless. He was paralyzed after a diabetic stroke more than four years ago. I had feed him earlier ahead before Geda, our youngest daughter, and I took our supper. Being used to his moods for more than four years, I thought he was just attracting attention. He asked me to sit on the chair beside his bed.

We talked about the children , Gerando, Gemarie, Gevincent, Genimfa and Gedaross, He often asked me to sit and talk to him after supper. He had been demanding lately, so I made excuses. I don't want to listen to serious talks. Watching soap opera across the room, I joked that I would listen to him only on commercial breaks


All these years, I have been in denial, forever hoping that someday he’ll recover and be able to walk again even how slow. Each time he talked seriously, I changed topic because I was afraid be might bid goodbye. At previous times , he would ride on and we talked about old family events. I was always able to divert his attention to something else. Deep inside I knew he knew what I was doing. Parting words from a loved one will shatter my world. I was purposely evading the issue.

When the commercial break finally came, he pulled me closer so I can hear correctly and watched his mouth to understand his slurred words.

Our older children have families of their own he said, and he was satisfied that they have decent jobs. He instructed me on what to do, where to go, me and Geda. For all I knew, those were his last words. My stomach lurched, when later, he kept calling my name. He was restless and I was afraid. A chill crept into in my spine like iced water poured on my back. I asked Geda to call Gevic. We were going to the hospital now.

We went to Borbon hospital, but our doctor transferred him to Mendero Hospital. He was placed at ICU; Tubes for breathing and eating were inserted on his mouth and nostrils. He was not conscious but he was moving furiously that he squeezed the palm of the nurse who inserted needles on his palm.

Yet after a few hours at the ER, the doctor decided to transfer us to Provincial Hospital in Dao, An ambulance was prepared for us again. I asked my daughter Maya and her husband Jun to take over management of the house, while our youngest daughter Geda and my son Gevic took charge of the never ending purchase of medicines, negotiated with the blood bank for blood transfusions, conferred with the doctors,. and updated Goyen, my nurse daughter in New York, of everything.

Thus began the fight for his life and my fight for sanity. Seeing my husband breathing in a tube through his mouth and feed through his nostrils with both palms in dextrose or medications was beyond my comprehension.. I floated in and out of ICCU to our room like a robot. He had been admitted to hospitals in Ozamiz City many times after his stroke but he was conscious and had never been at ICU.

In my heart, I had many words to say but nothing surfaced to my lips. My tears flowed freely with the words of the lay minister who prayed for him. My eldest son Randy was in the room and I saw him moved back with tears in his eyes.

Then came my daughter Goyen’s call from the States to the hospital, monitoring every hour of laboratory results and updates of his father’s condition. She was aggressive, when she knew his heart was still good, inspiring us, encouraging us to talk to him for he still can hear. Geda and I took turns talking to him. Sometimes, he pressed our hands to show that he heard. Geda placed her cellphone tuned to soft music near his ear. Gerimae, my granddaughter who was also a nurse, talked to him, when she arrived.

Then , all of a sudden, for reasons I couldn’t understand at that time; the doctor said we have to go back to Mendero hospital. If it was some personal problem or misunderstanding, I told him I was ready to beg for mercy from the hospital authorities to spare my husband, to let us stay until his condition was stable. But he needed dialysis, the doctor said, and it was urgent. The next day was a Sunday and it cannot be postponed till Monday. Government personnel are “on call” on holidays and we cannot rely on chances.

I allowed my children to decide for me, because my head was about to snap! So, again, an ambulance brought us back to Mendero ICU.

After his first dialysis, I talked to him. He opened his eyes and nodded when I asked if he could hear me. Then his head turned when he heard a voice. I said,
“That’s Geda. She’s here to get the doctor’s prescription.” He nodded again. I asked the nurse on duty if persons who are treated with dialysis have hopes of recovery. When she said “yes”. I clung to that last ray of hope .

My hopes began to crumble when he had to undergo dialysis for the second time; then third and now fourth dialysis. This time he was weaker and did not respond to my call. It was hurting, agonizing and painful.

I recall the ordeal of seeing him breathing so hard, his breast rising up and down, catching for breath He’d never would have consented that this be done to his body if he were conscious.

Every word uttered by the Sisters of Divine Mercy who prayed for him, pierced my heart deeply. Father Suarin gave him the last Sacrament of Extreme Unction in the afternoon after his Mass but he pulled me aside after it and advised me to accept God’s Will so he can rest.

When my daughter Goyen told me to accept the inevitable, I knew it was time to let go. We had done everything we could do but his time has come. She requested the doctor not to apply the CPR anymore if the arrest came, so there would be no more pain if he goes.

That evening of August 20, my son Gevic did not allow me to sleep in the hospital. There was nothing I could do there. Nurses are on duty 24 hours at ICU. I needed to rest.

At exactly 4:30am of August 21, I awoke and prayed the rosary. It is indeed in our darkest moments , when the pain is great, that we learn to pray our most heartfelt honest to God prayers. I tearfully asked God for a miracle, if it was good for him; but “Not my will but Yours be done , oh Lord”.

I was reading the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, when our boy called me from outside, to come to the hospital immediately. My God! Help me! We rushed out, almost running thru the night.

I was trembling, when I arrived at the hospital The tubes were gone and he was breathing slowly. Dr. Robles met me, took my blood pressure and uttered words of comfort I cried hard and hugged my husband so tightly crying until his last breath. My strongman has gone. He passed away silently and peacefully. His life on earth was numbered; yes, I have accepted it; but still the realization hit me so hard like a lightning bolt. His sufferings on earth ended and he has gone home to our Creator in His grace. That was my one big consolation.

After four years, six months, and three days, he succumbed to multiple organ failure.


His remains was laid in state at St. Peter’s Chapel at Sto Nino, Pagadian City. A funeral mass was held at San Vicente Ferrer Church in Molave at 8:00 am on August 28,2009. Starting from Pagadian City at 6:oo am , the procession stopped at our home at Barangay Makuguihon in Molave for a few minutes before going to the church. After the Mass he was finally laid to rest at Gabunon Cemetery.

Goodbye, Love.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Molave Then And Now

When I first came to Molave formerly called Salug in 1948, it was a town of mud and fallen trees.. Pathways were formed through constant use by stones and dried earth and when it rained the roads disappear, and people waded through waters up to the knees. The fallen trees just a short distance from our house were so huge, the diameters reaching almost one meter or more that children can run and play on it. We had a year round supply of firewood from the smaller branches and twigs .

But the situation did not deter the progress of the town. I remember the influx of so many people during market days or tabo, mountaineers , selling their wares, subanons with baskets on their backs full of malagkit and rice walking in single files.

I saw the transformation of Molave from the slippery muddy roads to the stone and graveled provincial roads.to asphalted roads , and later to the cemented roads we see now.

Our rice and corn mill was first located at corner Roxas Yangco St. while the parking place for jeeps leading to Mahayag and Dumingag was in the corner of Roxas and Rizal Avenue, across the Petron gas station now , with two Chinese stores facing each other , the New Town Bazar and Pana’s Store. Our neighbors across were Long Life Bakery owned by the Alferez family, the Sanchez family and the Delgado’s and on our side of the street were some restaurants. before the New Town Bazar

There were Christmases when dances were held in the street in front of our house.With chairs and tables used to form a quadrangle, everybody enjoyed the evening to their hearts content with no fear of any distraction or trouble whatsoever. During those times, the Mayor was Pelagio Blancia and the Municipal Hall was in Camp 7.

When Javier Ariosa became the next Mayor of Molave, the townsite was transferred to the present site. Our rice and corn mill was transferred to the commercial area facing the dry goods stalls of the public market. I was away in college and when I returned, my family was already settled there.

I also remember .that stall owners were allowed to sleep in their stores. Evenings were moments of socializing among neighbors Noy Jesus and Nang Narsing Jabalon family, the Hedocils . Nang Abon-Ekuat Roque and Ines Sy and children and others.

The blocks across were occupied by the Amameos. Rosalindas, the Supapos and Talip. Engr Rosalinda , a classmate of my kid sister , Lilit, once played with other children in our rice mill after milling time. My elder sister Liling had her group with Viving Retuerto and the Hedocils.

.. My younger brother Nening spent hours talking with Mely Hedocil above the roof extension of the first floor by passing through the windows of the second floor since our buildings were connected by only one wall.

“Those were the days. my friend, we laughed and danced and sing -------’ the lyrics of that song embodied the feelings we had . The months of April and May was a season of fun and laughter, not only because of the series of activities before the town fiesta, but because it was vacation time. A time for reunions of classmates and friends, schoolmates, acquaintances. Almost everybody we met were our friends. I remember the dances at the old Molave Tennis Court across the Municipal Hall. We went there in groups and went home in groups walking and laughing all the way. Sometimes , my younger sisters who went with us, would run ahead playing. That was before the time of “paregla” , and gang fights.

When I graduated from college , I worked at the Municipal Treasurer’s Office.. Since the Municipal Council hosted the fiesta affairs, we were involved with the dances and activities . I discovered that it was not all work but also a series of invitations to birthdays, fiestas, weddings and baptismal parties.

!Many years later, a big fire razed Molave, which burned down big establishments in the commercial area, including our rice and corn mill and the whole of the public market. My parents corn and rice mill was included. I was already married with two children and we lived separately from my family. Soon new buildings were put up and a new public market came into view.. A better and more uniform market blocks, cleaner too, since owners were not allowed to reside in the stalls . .

With the advent of housing loans , residential buildings sprouted in many vacant lots. Provincial roads and barangay roads were developed . Teachers and government employees availed of the chance to live on houses of their own.. Changes of administration helped in the development of the town, as each political party managed to leave behind some tangible projects to reckon with..

Then a few years back, another fire burned down the public market block. The area was redesigned by a past administration and continued to be improved by the incumbent one.

Sometime in Februaty 2005, we moved to Ozamiz City, as requested by our children for ease in our medical checkups. All my married children are living outside Molave. I visited the town once a month only. One time, I wondered why there were so many people when I alighted from the bus. Every corner was full of vendors. Then someone asked me to stay for the fiesta the following day. Ah, this poor senior citizen had forgotten ! I laughed so hard. I really forgot...

. Molave is not only the booming town that it was once. It has boomed and flourished far beyond expectations. So much that I see so many new faces wherever I go. It has changed a lot. I’ve spent a lifetime in this town and I’m proud of it.

I’ve heard that the street leading to our house in Lapulapu Street is now cemented and I’m happy. Every good news about Molave makes me feel so good. I’m still a Molavenian through and through. I’ve witnessed it blossomed from then to now.

.



Monday, October 1, 2007

My Childhood Part I

I have a faint recollection of my childhood, but there were some events I still remember so vividly like scenes in a movie. Our house in Cogon, a barrio of Ozamiz City, was built by the road with a rice and corn mill on one side and a sari-sari store on the other side. There was a long straight road in front of our house so we could see from a distance the carabao-driven caromata or balsa with sacks of rice or corn for milling. My elder sister Liling and I would run as fast as we could to meet them.

The owners would then say, "Stop, stop! The children of the mills! Let them ride!" The men would then pick and mount us above the sacks for a short ride up to our mill, which we enjoyed so much. Just when we get off, my sister spots another caromata coming so we run to meet them again.

Our nerves never tire of these happenings. We had two elder brothers who died one after the other in an epidemic just before I was born. Old folks say that a mother's physical condition would determine the health of the baby. I was born by a grieving mother. It accounted to my being sickly and frail. My elder sister was my guide and protector up to our school years because she was healthy, strong, and sturdy.

The War

One day, while we were eating breakfast, a series of loud bangs and sharp lights hit the skies like a roaring thunder and lightning. The neighbors were shouting. "War! War! The cadre is bombed!" Pandemonium broke. There was crying and shouting for children and family members. Mama and Papa picked up my younger brothers- Pepe by Mama and Rudy by Papa.
I was borne on the shoulders of Noy Peles, our machine operator, and Liling by Mama's sister
Nang Auring. We ran to hide. We did not know where to go. Papa instructed everybody to stay close together in hiding. We followed the running mob with crying children wrapped in blankets ( or whatever clothes they could grab) and looked for hiding places.

From my place on top of Noy Peles 's shoulder I could see many people behind the grooves and coco trees like clothes blown from the clothesline on a windy day. When the bombing ceased, Noy Peles told me we were going back to the house. We went home and finished our breakfast.

A few hours later, Mama, Papa, and the rest of the group arrived. They were amazed to find us already full and relaxed. Our playmates hurried along as they passed us by, but the grim faces of their parents were what etched deeper in my memory. They were the same expression that I saw in my parents' faces when they arrived earlier. The war had began.

The Little Secret

During those warring times, we heard stories of Japanese soldiers raising havoc everywhere. Manila and other cities were under the Japanese Imperial regime. Towns and barrios were penetrated, and several people were killed by bayonets; children were thrown up in the air, and the sharpness of the weapon seared their innocent flesh long before they reached the ground. Women of all agees, other than those tagged as comfort women, were raped.

Many people fled to the mountains. My parents evacuated to our coconut land in Cavinte, Tabid, with my paternal grandparents. There were also several other evacuees from the city and neighboring towns. They planted corn, root crops, fruits, and vegetables and raised fowls and pigs. They bartered their products with fish and seafood in a taboan in pulot with the fishermen by the seashore.

Our house had long posts and a long ladder; the space under the house became our playground.

One night Papa talked to Liling and me seriously. He explained the uncertainties of war. He told us to be strong whatever happened. He showed us an old candy jar made of glass. It was where our money, Mama's savings, and other important documents wre hidden. He buried the jar under our house that evening. The next morning he showed us the marker. There were times when Liling would stand on the spot and mischievely wink at me and I would nod, children as we were. It was a secret we shared.

Rumors that more soldiers have gone to neighboring barrios spread like fire. But our elders saw no reason for us to go deeper into the forest because malaria was rampant and wherever we go we would soon die of sickness and hunger.

One time got sick with malaria, followed by Papa. They were isolated in a nipa hut a short distance from our grandparents house where all of us children stayed. Our aunties took care of them . We were allowed to see them from a distance but they were wrapped in blankets and only their faces were shown; but it was enough to ease the loneliness of our separation.


Insek Tonyo

Across our house, there lived a chinese family. The lower part of their two-storey house was a sari-sari store. We called the patriarch Insek Tonyo. Their two children , a boy and a girl played with us.

One day, Papa and Mama , upon arriving from the taboan , immediately bundled our belongings. I saw them put our things in the double wall under the roof together with Papa's only pair of shoes. They cooked food and prepared us for another escape. They heard that Japanese soldiers were coming so everybody was alerted.

Before we finished lunch, the lookout shouted, "Hapon! Hapon! (Japanese, Japanese). We scrambled to the deeper woods with other families. We came to Litapan, a bathing area from a clean spring surrounded by trees. Everyone immersed in the water with heads up holding their children. Since I was only five, I stood up and said, " You are like clothes floating!" My mother motioned for me to keep quiet. Sure enough we soon heard loud sounds like horses galloping.

When I looked up, I saw what seemed like a battalion of soldiers, caps with flaps hanging about them. Some of them stopped right in front of us, while the rest continued marching to the road leading to the next barrio. I had never seen Japanese soldiers before that day , so I was impressed by the mere sight of them.

The leader made motions with roaring noises we could not understand. The local guide explained to us to follow them, and we followed silently. To our surprise we stopped in front of our house, which was used as temporary headquarters. The wide front yard was cordoned with a cable wide enough to accommodate the neighboring families hoarded inside grouping in corners. The upper part of our house was utilized as quarters for the officers and their cooks.

Downstairs, there was slaughtering of pigs, chickens, and goats and cooking of food. The children were allowed to run around. I ran the steps of our house followed by my elder sister Liling carrying our baby brother Pepe. Except for the guards surrounding the camp, the Japanese men were no longer in their soldier's uniform but on loose shorts and clothes, and others were bare up. They were no longer fierce looking. One smiled and took my baby brother from my sister and put him on our long dining table. Pepe was a big plump baby. They played with him and let him hold their telescope. They laughed and clapped their hands while when he giggled and made baby sounds. We took turns in using the telescope too. The other half of the table was a big basin filled with adobo and fried chicken. They gave us adobo and let Pepe carry a big chicken leg.

All the while my parents worried about us and were relieved to see us going downstairs all right. Mothers cried openly. We learned that young ladies were taken to the house of Insek Tonyo. Other ladies including my aunts were dressed as men wih dirt on their faces to discourage the soldiers of bad intentions.

We noticed several soldiers surrounding the house of Insek Tonyo. There was an interrogation inside the house because sometimes loud voices reached us. The house was guarded day and night for three days. Nobody could tell us why. Until one day we saw Insek Tonyo followed by six soldiers down the road leading to the river, hands tied at the back. The Japanese soldiers learned he was in possession of guns, which he vehemently denied. He broke down when he was battered beyond endurance. The guns, which the soldiers finally got, were hidden on top of the coconut tree at the back of their house. He was then taken away and never came back.

The Exit

Two weeks later , he soldiers packed up. There were orders for them to leave for the city , to everybody's relief. But all men were ordered to carry their load including pigs, chicken, goats, and boxes of commodiies to the city. Papa secretly learned of this. Two days before, he had been limping. His leg was wrapped in native onions soaked in oil held by banana leaves. After rubbing vigorously in the night, it became reddish and swollen so he wasa left behind. There was a lot of crying and loud weeping when the caravan left on foot, walking in single file the soldiers behind them with rifles ready. That scene stayed in my memory for a long time. Only a few of the men came back after four days. Those who stumbled and fall or got sick, were shot on the way.

A year later , in l943, we had another baby brother, named Filemon, Papa's junior. He was nicknamed Juning, which later became Nening as he grew up.






Friday, September 28, 2007

So Near Yet so Far

There was a girl, there was a boy.
If they had met they might have found a world of joy
But she lived in the morning side of the mountain
And he lived in the twilight side of the hill.

They never met , they never kissed
And they will never know what happiness they missed
For she lived in the morning side of the mountain
And he lived in the twilight side of the hill.

I cannot remember the full lyrics of this song, but the message reflects human behaviour about lack of communication , the common cause of misunderstanding . Words are not very important to convey to the other that you care. A peck on the cheek, a simple touch as you pass by , a warm smile , is a sign you know she exists. Is it hard to do?

And you and I are just like this
For all we know our love is just a kiss away
Cause you are in the morning side of the mountain (girl)
And you are in the twilight side of the hill (boy)

I have really forgotten the rest of the song, but it really gives the message - you're so near yet so far!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Notes On Love And Marriage - Part II

1. It's true that love is blind, but marriage is an eye-opener.

2. Love is one long sweet dream, and marriage is the alarm clock.

3. Three rings a woman gets in marriage; engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffer-ring.

4. Bachelor: the only man who has never told his wife a lie.

5. Bride: A woman with a fine prospect of happiness behind her.

6. Marriage: An expensive way to get your laundry done for free.

7. Marriage has no guarantee. If a guarantee is what you're looking for, go buy a car battery.

8. Here's a thought: A man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.

9. A smart aleck's definition of marriage: it's the triumph of imagination over intelligence.

10. Here's the root of women's problems: The nice men are gay. The handsome men are not

nice. The handsome and nice men are gay.

11. Remember this: Marriage can only be a mutual relationship if both parties learn to be

mute.

12. When a wife was asked what book she likes the best; she answers, "My husband's

checkbook."

13. Harry was madly in love with Betty but couldn't pluck up enough courage to pop the

question face to face. Finally, he decided to ask her on the telephone.

" Darling," he blurted out. " will you marry me?"

" Of course, I will, you silly boy," she replied. "Who is it speaking?"

14. A man inserted an ad in the classifieds: Wife wanted! Next day he received a hundred

letters. They all said the same thing: You can have mine.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Day With My Grandfather

When our parents got sick in the middle of the Second World War we were transported to our grandparents' house on my father's side at Cavente, Tabid Misamis Occ. I was five years old and I can picture a two storey house of wood and thatch surrounded by flowering plants. The first floor was divided into the living-dining room and kitchen with a big table and a stone grinder, while the remaining portion was used as storage for corn and oher food supplies. The second floor composed of two big bedrooms and a balcony.

Our grandma regaled us with folk stories and fairy tales every night to cover up the pain of separation from our parents. My kid brothers, Rudy and Pepe fell asleep after the first story, but my big sister Liling and I were still wide eyed, so she continued until we were very sleepy.
The following morning we insisted on going to the thatch house where our parents were isolated. They were wrapped in blankets that only their faces were shown. We cried but mother motioned for us not to go near. Then we went away.

One day, I woke up very early and sat on the stairs lost in thought. Birds were singing and chirping outside. Then my grandfather emerged from the kitchen with a covered basket on his back.

"Why so early? He asked picking me up, kissing my forehead. "Go back to sleep, or do you want to go with me?"

I nodded. I ran to get my coat and went with him. The air was still chilly but a warm breeze fanned my face. We wandered down through coconut trees, not hurrying. He told me the names of the trees, pointed to a bird's nest so well hidden. Even now I recall the wonders and awareness of nature in the early morning dusk. I learned to pay attention to the sound of crickets ringing in the grass.

He greeted a tuba gatherer who shouted back to us to get our share when we return. Then he transferred the basket to his left arm, lifted me to his back and walked faster among the trees down to a slope till I heard the gushing sound of running water at dawn. We came to a small brook, a stream so clear, I could see the stones in the riverbed. He secured me on a big flat stone so I can see what he was doing without dipping my feet in water. There was an oblong basket made of bamboo slats positioned between two big stones where the river flowed. He peeped through the basket and laughed heartily. He lifted me to see what's inside.

"See?" he laughed.

Lo! Live shrimps jumping inside the trap! I cannot forget the thrill of that moment. He allowed me a few minutes to feast my eyes on the commotion inside the trap, some big, some small trying to find a way to escape. Then he loosened the stones and transferred his catch to our basket, covered it, and returned the trap to its position. Grandpa was slightly hard of hearing so he talked loud to explain what he did, sometimes glancing at my direction to see if I had fallen asleep. I was not only awake. My eyes were very much alert watching our live catch. He also harvested the shrimps from his other traps down the river. Our basket was almost full when we started for home. When we stopped to get our share of tuba, he adjusted his load, and them stooped to let me climb on his back. But I said I could walk.

Smiling, he held my hand and we walked together slowly. He hummed a song. He asked me to sing too. For me at that time it was just fun. A grandpa and a granddaughter were singing on the way home. Looking back at it now, my heart ached. We passed by neighbors who greeted us warmly with big,big smiles. The morning sun began to filter through the tangled branches of mango ang guava trees. My sister and two brothers ran to meet us. Grandma was feeding chickens when we arrived. She smiled tenderly when grandpa patted her back and said he had brought her favorite sweet tuba, exchanging some jokes they only knew. Their grandpa laughed as he picked up and kissed my baby brothers and sister.

After hearing my adventure with grandpa, my brothers and sister, insisted to go with him too. He promised that another one will go with him the next day.

We had a hearty breakfast of boiled eggs, plenty of fried shrimos, cups of chocolte and fried bananas.

That happened a long time ago. My grandparents are gone. My parents are gone. I am now in my summer years with my own grandchildren . Yet there are memories that are never totally forgotten or left behind. How different country life was before and now. Food was abundant, fresh fruits and vegetables were plucked fresh from their gardens. The loving tenderness of my grandparents is something I will not forget.

Notes on Love and Marriage

Random Quotes Compiled from Many Sources:

On Love

1. If you love someone , set it free. If it comes back to you, it's yours; if not, it was never meant to be yours.

2. My friend used to say that if you love something, turn it loose. If it doesn't come back hunt for it and kill it. ( he , he,)

3. It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

4. It is better to have loved in vain than to have loved and lost.

5. It is best to love wisely, no doubt, but to love foolishly is better than not to be able to
love at all.

On Marriage

1. Getting married is very much like going to the restaurant with a friend. You order what you want. When you see what the other fellow has, you wish you had ordered that.

2. When a newly married man looks happy, we know why. But when a ten-year married
man looks happy, we wonder why.

3. They say that when a man holds a womans hand before marriage it's love; after marriage
it's self defense.

4. There was this man who muttered a few words in church and found himself married. A
year later, he muttered something in his sleep and found himself divorced.

5. There was this lover who said that he would go through hell for her. They got married, and
now he is going through hell.

6. A happy marriage is a matter of giving and taking; the husband gives, and the wife takes.

7. There was a man who said. " I never knew what happiness was until I got married; and
then it was too late."
(To be continued)

A Mother Looks Back

May 12, 2001

Where did all the years go? How could they have sneaked so fast? How could my little girl with the beautiful chinky eyes and cute smile be already twenty years old?

Wasn't it only yesterday that I brought a five- year old little girl to school as visitor, when after a few minutes she came out of the room to tell me to go home because I was the only mother waiting in the balcony? Wasn' it only yesterday when I sat in her voice concerts and piano recitals and clapped until my hands ached?

Ah, those wonderful years when she'd entertain me and her papa with her solo concerts at home. I was always there everytime she sang on stage.

It seemed a short time ago that she learned to write her name. Now she writes term papers and e-mails and writes speeches for others.

Gone are the preschool years and high school. A UP Journalism student now, she's almost through with college. Just recently, she was emcee at the local town fiesta and made an impressive performance. A confident young lady I hardly thought she'd turn out to be.

A few years from now, God willing, she'll finish college, find a job like her brothers and sisters, or start her own business the way she wants, the last of my brood. Then I can sit back, smile and relax.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Things I Could Have Done

For My Father

Before my father died, I usually dropped at my parent's house on my way to work to spend some five or ten minutes tinkering on the piano keys. I took a short cut at the back of the rice mill leading to the store. The family piano was transferred to my brother's house at the back lot years ago due to a flashflood. It was a separate house facing the backstreet which was vacant when my brother's family moved to Pagadian. It became a resthouse for Papa and my younger sister Ness.

As soon as I started playing, my father would appear from behind humming softly, walking till he reached beside me. A music lover , he then sat near and made some comments on my accompaniments. My piano studies before was on and off and I had a mixture of oido playing with notes. The rest were self study. My sister Ness and Rudy were better players. Though Papa was not a pianist, he was a good guitarist. He played the banjo and bass well. I remember him play the guitar at bedtime with Mama singing old love songs before the advent of television in our town. After supper Papa would play the banjo with my brothers, Nening and Rudy on the guitar and bass. I was already married when a piano was added so I practiced when I had time.

He made corrections on my accompaniments simply by asking me to strike a note forward and backward until I hit the right note. He would ask me to repeat and repeat till I mastered it. Then we break . He loved to talked of many things until I stopped because I'll be late for office.

This went on every working day. Papa would time his appearance when he hears the first chords and especially when he had something to tell me. There were times when I didn't want to be delayed, so when he appeared, I tell him. "Pa, I would stay only five minutes." to which he would smile in approval. It was like saying, "don't delay me" and he won't persuade me to stay longer.

One day, I played so softly so he can't hear me and when he arrives I'd be gone. When I finished, I stood up to find him just watching silently by the door. How we laughed together because I was like a child caught doing some mischief. A very understanding person, he respected our rights and privacies so much. He knew I was a working woman and he would delay me no more.

When he died, I realized why Papa relished every single minute with me. My mother was gone, my elder sister was gone. I was his only link to the past. My younger brothers and sisters were living far, except Ness, who was still single. She took over management of the store and rice mill when Mama got sick and later died. He needed someone to talk to.

My heart warmed up to him, my belovesd father, the most upright, most understanding father in the world! How could I have denied him even the ten minutes extension of my time. I felt so bad.

I recalled the many instances he supported me. The time he gamely sat up to listen to my stories the first times I read pocketbooks in my first high school days because I had no more audience, all the others had fallen asleep and I was so excited to continue. The times he checked on us at bedtime and tucked in our mosquito nets; the times he hovered over me when I was sick, feeling my forehead so lightly while I pretended to sleep. The times he sat on the stairs reading comics when I was on labor for my first child just to ease the tension of waiting.

I'm sorry Pa. I'm sure you're still watching over me with understanding.

Holy Thursday

April 15, 2006

I creased my eyes to the biting heat of the summer sun as I hailed a motor cab.

" To the church please", I said.

The driver nodded, when a man past middle age hailed the cab also. I let him pass by me because my destination was nearer.

He muttered a "thanks", then he continued in a loud voice.

"What a life! You never can tell! Just last week I talked to my friend. We were happy talking.
I even asked him if he had a medical checkup. Never did. Now he's dead. That's where I came from." He pointed to a funeral parlor behind us.

"Heart attack." He continued . Since he was apparently addressing to me, I asked him politely.

"How old is he?"

"Only seventy years old, and I'm seventy seven. My good friend, huh!" shaking his head.

I was really in no mood for small talk. Usually, when I'm on a ride on the way downtown, my mind takes note of my itinerary, as I have a sick husband at home. But out of respect to this seemingly respectable old man who wanted to unburden himself I answered:

"He's lucky to have reached that age. Nowadays, people die young, due perhaps to the food we eat, and the dust and chemicals in the air we breathe. Besides, thousands perished in recent calamities without warning, regardless of age, young and old, rich or poor. The best that we can do is to pray and be prepared always."

His voice softened a bit.

"I think you're right." he said.

The pain of loss of a dear friend had hit this old man so hard that compelled him to talk even to a stranger like me. Fear of death is inherent in man. Yet we are taught that death is the necessary passage to eternal life. As we grow older , fear is diminished by the expectation of a beautiful life thereafter.

I told him that my husband is paralyzed for more then one year now, after a stroke. There were times when I woke up early at dawn to hear him asking the Lord, to end his sufferings. Much as we ask the Lord to hear our prayers, we say, "Not my will, but Yours be done, oh Lord."

He asked me many things about our health and how we must have regular checkups. I told him not to forget about God's miracles too. He told me he was at Faith hospital and he knew my daughter , when he asked me of my whereabouts.

He was smiling now.

When I alighted at the church, I told him, "Just pray for your friend."

As I approached the gate, He called out, "Thank you , Sister! We'll just pray!"

Was I glad! I did not even know him, but on this Holy Thursday, I had enlightened a stranger to the will of God in my own simple way. Despite my own problems today, I felt lighter.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Feb. 25, 2002

Two years before my retirement from public service, I was relieved from my duties and appointed as liaison officer of NIA Molave to GSIS, BIR, and Pag-ibig at Pagadian City. The assignment gave me an opportunity to travel three to four times a month depending on the necessity of my appearances thereof.

On one such occasion, I went to the van terminal at 6:30 a.m. There were passengers already when I arrived: two of them were acquaintances, both senior citizens. I sat beside them at the second seat. The van left when it was almost full.

When we reached the junction between Dipolo to Esperanza, a young lady hailed the van. The driver stopped the vehicle and went out because the door of the van was defective and had to be pulled out hard.

A young lady with a face so pretty entered gracefully and sat at the vacant seat beside the driver and in front of me. She looked like a student or a young graduate from college. The ladies beside me were talking in slightly loud voices because one of them apparently was hard of hearing. I often sit with passengers like this, but I ignored them because I was sleepy.

Suddenly, I was startled by an irritated grumble from the young lass who looked back wih an arrogant stare at the ladies. Actually, it was not only a grumble, but an expressed annoyance of the ladies loud talk. My admiration for her beauty paled with her open display of rude manners and discourtesy to old folks.

She instructed the driver that she would alight before we reached the IBT in Pagadian. The driver then stopped the vehicle and prepared to get out to open the door for her but she reached for the handle, twisted it and pushed, but it did not move until the driver pulled it outside. What shocked us was her utterances of evil words when she failed to open it, "P--- te! I----y!" When she finally got out she banged the door outside to the dismay and disbelief of the riders inside. We were stunned at the acts of the lovely lady who entered like an angel but turned out to be like a devil in disguise.

Apparently, her education was overruled by her kind of breeding and inherent bad character.
We cannot judge a book by its cover.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

There's Beauty in Aging

Nov. 28,2004

Wine tastes better when it is aged. The longer it stays in the cellar, the sweeter it becomes. Why is it then that people fear growing old?

One of the best sellers of our time are products dealing with miracle drugs and herbal foods and vitamins that keep one young forever; beauty products to prevent wrinkles or hide it; hair tints to turn gray or white hair into black, brown , or blond. The list is endless.

The struggle for money and power is coupled by the search for the proverbial fountain of youth, as if everything crumbles down when one grows old.

Have I felt this fear too? I waited until this moment to comment. While my body undergoes the natural wear and tear phase, the cracking of the joints when I rise after having sat for a long while; it is at this point that I gain a personal understanding of what life is all about. There's this feeling of wisdom and confidence, the feeling that I'm respected, that many look up to me for the wealth of experiences I can share. It is like reaching the top of a mountain after a hard climb and surveying the areas where I rose after every fall. At this point, I even laughed at my mistakes . This wonderful feeling more than compensates for the signs of aging.

It was nice to be young once, but if I were given a chance to be young again, I certainly wouldn't choose to be eighteen or thirty -five. Perhaps fifty-five to sixty. Still old? Yes, but whether it was pure luck or destiny, I've hurdled the rat race, the crab mentality era, the immaturity of my time, so why go back? Besides the race is harder now, situations more intriguing. I may not be able to survive again. Yahoo!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Moving On

I have written about the process of moving on, of accepting whatever and wherever we may be. I have passed on same advices to my sisters abroad who still long to recapture the bliss of a once happy home or for what had been, and to friends who found it hard to let go. I have strongly urged them to move on. But the truth is, I still think of the home where my children grew up , not only once in a while, but almost always.

We left the house in Molave in a sudden when my husband had a stroke and there was no way for us to go back. He needed medical attention and physical therapy ever so often. I visited the house once a month, and everytime I did I felt an aching loneliness of a time gone by. That house brought love, tears, and laughter; the good old house. I missed the children in that house so much.

Feeling the soft breeze against my skin , and smelling the sweet scent of fruit trees and flowering plants upon entering the house often flood back memories and a sad feeling of loss. It was not easy to pretend the feeling did not exist, because it was always there. I engrossed myself in reading and writing in-between medical checkups so I won't have time left to brood.

Until one day, I was reading the book section of an old Reader's Digest, "Born in Paradise" and came upon a paragraph which changed my outlook and consoled my grieving heart.

"Life is a grand adventure even when it goes against you - so don't look back and grieve for the good old days. Jam all you can into each new one. After a bit you'll discover that they'll be the good old days of the future. In the meantime keep your chins up and the world will never lick you.

It's going to be an interesting experience to you to learn that it isn't life that matters. It's the spirit you put into it that counts. Happiness is a mental adjustment to whatever circumstances surround you."

It was the hammer that knocked out my reverie. The pain diminished , replaced with a clearer acceptance of our destiny. The old home had served its purpose. I started to look around and see what I can do in my new environment. I realized I have already made some friends with those I come in contact with, the hospital staff, the doctors, drugstore personnel, and my new neighbors. On the way, I renewed ties with old friends, relatives , and former classmates and they are glad to see me. I know that whatever circumstances will befall on us, life must go on.

The children have grown up; they have started to carve their own lives away from us, perhaps even better than what we had. They are better equipped with values from the old home. We have gained beautiful, lovable grandchildren. The paradise we enjoyed once can be flown to wherever our destinies are. We can make our lives fuller and richer than the ones behind us.
I breathed deeply and sighed. At last, I'm freed from the guilt of leaving home, freed from the ghost of yesterday.

I HAVE MOVED ON.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Moment Of Light

February 18, 2006

Trials knock at your door at a time when you least expect them. A time when you thought everything was going just right for you and suddenly the tables turn and everything goes wrong.

It was a sun-filled afternoon when it happened. I found my husband sprawled on the floor at about 3;30 pm on February 18, 2005. He had a stroke, and the right part of his body was paralyzed.

That was a year ago. Up to now, he's undergoing physical therapy so he could walk again. Whether or not that day will come, I'm still hopeful; but I leave it all to God.

During my dark hours of suffering, I had asked Him, "Why, oh why did you let this happen to me?" When others face trials, you think you have been spared; but when you face it yourself, you feel that nobody has ever felt pain in the same intensity as you have.

At the first week in the hospital, every waking moment was a nightmare; seeing my husband immobile and in pain. From the hospital, we stayed in the residence of my married daughter, Goyen, a registered nurse, who provided us with comfort and freed me from household worries. I have never doubted that God was with me, but there had been days when doubts crept into my mind. I felt down and out, agonizing inside, crying silently in the night. I became sensitive and hurting that casual remarks brought tears to my eyes. I longed for the tranquility of my home.

Until one day, I sat up and reassessed myself, Where is the strong woman you once had been ? The comforter friends ran to in times of distress? The levelheaded person your daughter had known?

I pieced out my life one by one. I must not allow self-pity to destroy me. Sulking would give space to idle thoughts. I busied myself with reading and writing in between feedings, physical therapies, and just about anything to keep me occupied.

In the prayer room one day, I poured out my pains, my anguish, my everything, and slowly a kind of peace engulfed my being.

Without realizing it, God had been with me all the time. How could I have survived the crisis without my children's support? It was clearly through God's guidance that prepared them to be available to us at the time we needed them most.

One week before the incident, we had a new housemaid, a big woman who helped me lift my husband from the floor when most of the time we were alone. Then there was the arrival of Bsmbi, my niece, at their house when I called on her to help us when most of the time she was out. Coincidence like this happened so often in my life that I can say they are acts of Divine Providence. These are actually blessings and graces manifested in little miracles God uses when He works anonymously. Even now as I write this, some incidents blessed me. Just yesterday, I had to withdraw an amount from my savings for emergencies, since the therapies, medicines, and maintenance cost so much. Suddenly I received a text message from a debtor saying she was sending full payment of her account to my ATM. Then a phone call from a relative abroad who said she was sending some money as well. Isn't this another sort miracle too?

My husband is still paralyzed, but the future no longer haunts me as before. I've found peace in the wonderful discovery of taking refuge and trusting the Lord when trials knock at the door.

TIME: Quote of the Day